Syrian Rebel forces continue to close in on the Damascus airport, approaching within 7 kilometers, breaking through the railway front line and taking most of Deir Salman, according to the Syrian Rebels Twitter feed..Jewish Press News Briefs
Posts Tagged ‘Damascus’
Arab sources report that dozens of combatants from both Hezbollah and Free Syrian Army/Jabhat al-Nusra (the Syrian Rebels) have been killed in ongoing fierce fighting in the Qalamoun region. The battle has been dubbed “The Spring Battle” by Arab media.
The area, along the Syrian-Lebanon border is strategically critical. It controls the Lebanon-Damascus supply pipelines and is how Hezbollah supports Bashar Assad’s army and regime in Damascus.
If Assad/Hezbollah loses control of the area, Damascus is more likely to fall to the Syrian Rebels. It will also cut off Assad’s Alawite region in northwest Syria from from Damascus too.
Hezbollah believes that if Assad falls, so will they.
Assad is unable to send significant, if any, forces to assist in this battle, and his army is stretched thin in other areas, in particular around Damascus, which is a primary target for the Syrian Rebels.
At the moment, it is believed that the Syrian Rebel forces are winning in the Qalamoun region.
A source close to Hezbollah told Reuters that Nasrallah has deployed 85% of his combat forces to fight in Syria, leaving only 5% of his forces on the border with Israel.
A Lebanese paper claims that 1500 Hezbollah terrorists have been killed since they joined in the fighting in Syrian’s civil war.
The number of senior Hezbollah commanders killed in Qalmoun fighting has risen to six.Shalom Bear
Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, the head of UNRWA, left to visit Syria on Saturday to discuss the situation in Yarmouk, a ‘Palestinian’ refugee camp in Damascus, Syria, established in 1957, and actually a suburb of Damascus, with real buildings, streets and infrastructure, and not a tent city as the name implies.
All the relief workers have fled the neighborhood since Islamic State invaded, and the situation in the neighborhood has been described as “beyond inhumane”.
Reading through the purposefully vague wording of the official UNRWA press release, it appears that Krähenbühl will not actually visit the Yarmouk neighborhood, though it tries to give off the impression that he would.
On April 1, Islamic State (Da’esh) attacked and overran Yarmouk, a suburb in southern Damascus, fighting the local Hamas-affiliated terror group, Bait al-Maqdis, that controlled the neighorhood.
There is another terror group in the Sinai also named Bait al-Maqdis, who are thought to have had connections with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, but have since sworn allegiance to Islamic State.
Da’esh took over most of the southern Damascus neighborhood, and were reportedly assisted by members of Jabhat Al-Nusra who helped get them in.
Two years ago, Yarmouk had over 200,000 residents, but now they are down to less than 18,000. The neighborhood has been under siege by pro-Assad’s troops for the past two years. The PLO and other ‘Palestinian’ factions were among the first to flee in 2013.
Islamic State said they came in to liberate the residents from Assad’s siege.
On Friday, the Palestinian Authority/PLO has made it clear they have absolutely no intention of helping their compatriots militarily, contradicting an AP report quoting the PLO envoy to Damascus, Ahmad Majdalani, who said the PLO would join sides with the Syrian government to expel Da’esh from the Yarmouk neighborhood.
The PLO says it refuses “to be drawn into any armed campaign.” The Palestinian Authority has been undecided as to which side it should support in the Syrian civil war.
According to Al Jazeera,
Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior PLO official based in the West Bank town of Ramallah, said Friday that negotiating safe passage for Yarmouk’s besieged residents and for humanitarian supplies is preferable to military action.
Of course, since Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey are refusing to allow most ‘Palestinian’ refugees to enter their countries, it’s not clear where the safe passage would actually take them, except outside the latest immediate battle zone.
Left-wing groups in Israel have launched a new campaign to flood Israel with tens (hundreds?) of thousands of Yarmouk “Palestinian refugees” for “humanitarian” reasons, since their fellow Arabs and Muslims refuse to help them and grant them refuge.
Left-wing ideologues are trying to use the Yarmouk crisis to radically change the demographics of Judea and Samaria, while saying that Israel should ignore the political consequences of such an action.
In the Jerusalem Post, Gershon Baskin writes, “This is not the time to score political points… Israel should announce immediately its willingness to have those 18,000 remaining residents of Yarmouk come to the West Bank.”
A Haaretz Editorial wrote, “Israel could offer Abbas the possibility of absorbing some of the refugees into the Palestinian Authority… Political considerations and disputes with the PA should be set aside at this time.”
Islamic State’s control of Yarmouk gives Da’esh a strong foothold in Damascus, which they haven’t had before.
For the Israeli far-Left, their “solution” to this crisis aligns perfectly with their ongoing political agenda to get rid of Israeli control over historic Judea and Samaria – some might say, almost cynically so.Shalom Bear
The Islamic State (ISIS) has posted sickening pictures of a reported 21 victims its murderers have beheaded in the UNRWA-run Yarmouk refugee camp near downtown Damascus.
An imam was said to have been one of the victims, and it is possible UNRWA personnel also were among those butchered. Scores of others were killed or wounded by barrel bombs dropped by the Assad regime’s planes in an effort to force the ISIS to retreat.
“There is no food, there is no water and there is very little medicine,” said U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman Chris Gunness. “The situation in the camp is beyond inhumane. People are holed up in their houses; there is fighting going on in the streets. There are reports of … bombardments.”
The Yarmouk camp is one of dozens set up by UNRWA in the past decades to keep Arabs stateless and in institutionalized misery for the sake of the Arab world hope of using them as tools to overrun Israel on the basis of the claim that their refugee status is due to Israeli residency by previous generations.
However, the miserable life in the camps and even the ISIS takeover of Yarmouk have not aroused Arab sympathies.
Knesset Arab Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi said Monday, “I am angry and deeply saddened about what is happening in what is left of the camp.”
But he also tried to create a scenario that the Yarmouk refugees are being ignored because they are “Palestinians,” although hundreds of thousands of Arabs in Lebanon and Iraq have been killed and left homeless because of the savage civil war in Syria and which is beginning to spread over its borders.
Using the same Arab word for “catastrophe,” as most Arabs call the re-establishment of the State of Israel, Tibi said that Yarmouk is “another case where the refugees who suffered in the Nakba of 1948 are suffering again.”
But he never even thought of blaming the United Nations, which does not pass on the status of “refugee’ to any second generation in the world except for the few hundred thousands of Arab who once lived in Israel and who now number more than 5 million.Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan (and a few quiet others) have been urging U.S. President Barack Obama to climb down from his tree and listen to Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. There’s a reason for that.
A new radical Islamic axis is forming, one that is cuddling up to the Muslim Brotherhood. The once-scattered Iranian-backed terror groups dedicated to annihilating the State of Israel are coalescing into a second axis while threatening to form an alliance with Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria also known as ISIS, as well as Al Qaeda and other global jihad organizations.
Because part-time pundits don’t have time to study the fine details of where things are happening on the political chessboard of the Middle East, here’s a cheat sheet to help you keep score on the latest realities in the region.
For a lot of Western political analysts, the Arab Spring was confusing and a real pain in the neck — but that was a walk in the park compared to the nightmare now facing foreign affairs policy makers trying to stay abreast on current terrorist ties and the tangled web they are spinning in the ‘hood.
U.S. President Barack Obama is looking for a way to nurse his salty wounds over having to spend his final tenure swallowing bile while chatting civilly, if not with good manners, during phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
But here’s what’s happening right now — and what the leader of the greatest country on earth has to grapple with — while he continues to search for ways to pick a fight with Israel’s most popular leader since the Israel was founded by its first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion.
Two terror organizations in Nigeria and Somalia, Boko Haram and Al Shaba’ab respectively, have both pledged allegiance to Daesh, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Both groups have slaughtered thousands and wounded more, committed numerous atrocities and are continuing to carry out murderous terror attacks to prove their mettle as “jihadists,” or holy warriors for Islam.
The moderate Arab nation of Tunisia suffered its first public terrorist attack by ISIS this weekend in a massacre that left 20 dead and dozens of others wounded in the iconic Bardo museum in Tunis, including many foreign tourists. At least 3,000 Tunisians have flown to Syria to join the ISIS terror organization; it’s no surprise those chickens are beginning to come home to roost in North Africa.
Tunisia is one of the few Arab nations left that can claim to be home to one of the most ancient Jewish communities in Africa, and which has enjoyed a healthy international tourism trade. It now faces severe damage to its tourist industry, which was just beginning to recover from the ravages of the Arab Spring. Ominously, the threat level facing Tunisia’s Jewish community on the country’s island of Djerba is also not clear.
Libya, which borders Tunisia — and where an American Ambassador and three U.S. diplomats were murdered in an Al Qaeda attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 — has been entirely swallowed by Al Qaeda and allied terrorist groups. ISIS has also joined the party, spreading cells throughout the country as well. Earlier this month, ISIS made its “debut” appearance in the oil-rich nation with a public seaside beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian laborers taken captive by the terror organization.
In the Middle East:
Egypt is facing one of the toughest fights of its life in the Sinai Peninsula as it battles a budding invasion by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Iranian proxy groups. Homegrown terror cells and disgruntled Bedouin tribes are aiding and abetting this effort, having always looked for greener pastures and a better deal regardless of who’s in power in Cairo.
Gaza has been controlled since 2007 by Iran‘s proxies who include Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and in a consultant position, Hezbollah. All maintain contentious but cooperative relationships with the Salafi, global jihad Army of Islam terror group which is linked to Al Qaeda. ISIS is also now represented in the region as well.
Jordan is facing an existential threat on its borders with Iraq and Syria due to ISIS having captured border crossings on both, and the presence of Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards along the border with Syria. So far, its only remaining friendly borders are with Israel, and with Egypt. In addition, the Palestinian citizens within Jordan are not as friendly to the Hashemite regime as one might believe; moreover, they are wont to align with the Muslim Brotherhood which also operates within the kingdom and which can be seen as a fifth column.
Lebanon has been swallowed by ISIS, Palestinian Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades linked to Fatah, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, all of whom vie for power in the nation. Hezbollah holds the lion’s share of the political clout in the government since the terrorist group long ago expanded to include parliament members and actual ministers in the government cabinet as well.
Iraq was the first to fall to ISIS; its border crossings with Syria and Jordan were easy prey for the terror group. Iran easily persuaded the government that its was better off allowing its Islamic neighbor to “help” it fight off the Sunni threat than to place its trust in the American administration that had abandoned its ally when it was still to weak to fend off terrorist and tribal challenges to the power of the central government. So now Iran has now entered the picture there as well, to “assist” Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS, which Iran perceives as a threat to its own interests, for the time being at least.
It is likely that when the power struggle ends, one way or the other, Iran will be the force to divide the spoils and cut a deal with ISIS in order to ultimately divide up the region between the two emerging empires. However, Iran will ultimately be the one to rule because ISIS does not have the self-discipline, nor the structural underpinnings necessary to create and maintain an administration to rule an empire. This is quite separate and apart from Iran’s booming weapons production industry, not to mention its galloping race to develop nuclear arms.
Watch it happen – you read it here first on Jewish Press.com.
Syria was the little ticking time bomb that appeared to have set off this entire conflagration – but if one looks closely, it is clear that ISIS does not attack the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Nor does Assad bother much with the ISIS terrorists. Both have bigger fish to fry.
Assad is an Alawite — a sect that is linked to Shia, hence his close ties with Shiite Iran and that nation’s support of his struggle. Iran sent Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps units and Hezbollah guerrillas to fight alongside his troops. Russia also supplemented Assad for quite some time — right up to the point that Assad began to lose and Russian citizens were endangered. Then Russian “consultants” were evacuated, funding slowed down to a crawl but weapons shipments continued to arrive.
ISIS meanwhile wants to expand its reach throughout the entire Middle East — and that’s just for starters. Its ultimate stated goal is simply to establish a worldwide caliphate — an “Islamic State” — and nothing less. Think ‘Hitler’ with a 21st century media team and you’re headed in the right direction.
In any case, Syria is no longer really Syria; it is now divided up into cantons, each of which is governed separately by various emirs and such. Many report to ISIS already. Some report to Al Qaeda. Others still are loyal to the “moderate” Syrian National Council and its Free Syrian Army. A few are hanging on to Syria’s government, or what’s left of it – mostly around Damascus.
And now there’s Yemen, bits of it left currently on the chopping block and most already nearly to the mop-up stage by Al Qaeda, ISIS and their Houthi opponents, soon probably to be allies as well. Of course, Al Qaeda had laid the groundwork for the takeover of the country to a great extent, having infiltrated and permeated the territory over the past several years. Al Qaeda promotes the image of being at odds with ISIS, although the latter began as a freak offshoot of the terror mothership, but it is more likely all a bluff. We will yet see the day the two will re-unite as one, or return as allies.
In the meantime, Saudi Arabia is starting to move its military forces towards the border with Yemen. The last time Saudi Arabia did that was in March 2011, when it “helped” its neighbor Bahrain fend off a surreptitious move by Iran to foment unrest in the Sunni-ruled country (which has a Shia majority) under cover of the Arab Spring. It took one day for 1,000 Saudi troops and 500 troops from United Arab Emirates to clear protesters from around the iconic Pearl Roundabout in Manama, and then to destroy the statue on what became known locally as “Bloody Thursday.”
The U.S. Embassy in Yemen has been closed due to the escalating attacks. Embassy staff and families of diplomats were evacuated from the country, just in time. The last group of 100 American special forces who were there to consult and help the Yemen military fight off the takeover in the first place were evacuated from the country last weekend due to the ‘rising danger.’
Houthi rebels seized the airport and control of the entire city of Taiz as well as the surrounding province over the weekend as well – about 240 miles south of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a — according to Taiz provincial government officials who spoke with international media.
As early as January, Yemen’s president and his cabinet resigned after the Houthis surrounded the presidential palace, and in fact the entire capital city of Sana’a was captured by the Houthi rebels. Last week ISIS suicide terrorists arrived in Sana’a and bombed two mosques, killing 137 Yemenis and wounding hundreds more, making it clear that supremacy over the city is still up for grabs.
The United Nations Security Council met Sunday (March 22, 2015) to discuss Yemen’s deteriorating situation, with its UN envoy to Yemen reporting the country is “at the edge of civil war.” Meanwhile, Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi remains in exile in the southern port city of Aden, maintaining that he is still the nation’s leader. Last week, the Houthi war against Hadi pursued him all the way south to Aden, with an air strike aimed at the palace where he is housed. That day, Houthi rebels on the ground battled Hadi loyalists in Aden leaving 13 dead.
Finally, there is Turkey.
It’s odd how few actually discuss what’s happening in Turkey, a NATO member who has provided free passage to literally every single terrorist group that has requested safe passage through its country, even into Syria to reach the ISIS capital of Raqqa. If you travel through Istanbul airport on an average day, it becomes amazingly clear that whoever wishes to, can travel through Istanbul from Iran, Russia, or anywhere else.
Turkey is the ultimate Casablanca of today’s Middle East.
Muslim Brotherhood officials are warmly greeted by their supporters there. Hamas has a new international headquarters in the country, Fatah and other Palestinian officials are always welcome, and ISIS operatives move across the border to bring imports (brides and other ‘items’) to Raqqa with no trouble at all. Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members – you name it, and you can make that meeting happen in Turkey, if you know the right buttons to push. Even United States officials are welcome.
Just be wary if you’re Jewish, or Israeli, of course.
Only a U.S. reject deported back home via Cairo to make a good showing to the Americans was turned back. Turkish authorities didn’t bother with that performance when it came to ignoring three young Muslim school girls from the UK whose frantic parents begged the Ankara government to block them from crossing the border into ISIS Land.
One wonders how Turkey is able to square its relationship with NATO with all that going on.
But managing delicate, intricate relationships are a peerless skill practiced by Turks since ancient times. There are few who can match a Turkish diplomat in anything, let alone the multi-lateral negotiations involving events so complex that one would need a nuclear microscope just to see past the surface, let alone begin to address it.
No wonder President Obama feels so disgruntled, so out of sorts, so … over his head.
This is not his neighborhood. He doesn’t know the language, diplomatically, behaviorally, gramatically or culturally. Nor has he yet learned the basic regional sport of bargaining in the souk. Worse, he probably would never enjoy it. You have to really love it to survive it.
But if you don’t live in the neighborhood, or you never come to visit, how on earth can you work out a two-state “solution” — let alone PEACE? More to the point, if you really dislike it so much why bother?
Mr. President, at least relax a little before you really hurt someone, and let those who actually like the region deal with it and with the Israelis too.
By the way – just as for your information — you may not realize it, but in Israel the appliance stores are still doing a really brisk business selling those terrific home appliances that are made in Turkey. Now, how do you suppose that could be, given all that hostile anti-Israel ranting from Ankara?Rachel Levy
For years, Hezbollah terrorists have believed the Israel was behind the murder of its Number 2 leader, Imad Mughniyeh — but a front page article Friday in The Washington Post has revealed the United States was equally involved in his demise on a Damascus street. The CIA collaborated with Israel’s international Mossad intelligence agency to assassinate the next-in-line to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.
Former U.S. officials told The Washington Post the assassination carried out in the Syrian capital on February 12, 2008, was a complex joint operation. CIA spotters were tracking Hezbollah’s international operations chief that night. But as he approached the parked SUV, it was agents from the Mossad in Tel Aviv who detonated the American-made car bomb that exploded.
According to an intelligence source quoted by The Washington Post, “The way it was set up, the U.S. could object and call it off, but it could not execute.” The source added that the bomb was tested repeatedly, “maybe 25 times” to ensure there would be no collateral damage, that the blast would be contained.
Five former U.S. intelligence officials confirmed American involvement in the assassination, according to the paper.
It is interesting that this highly classified information is being leaked now, seven years later, on the eve of Israel’s national elections and during one of the lowest point ever in U.S.-Israeli diplomatic relations.
Mughniyeh was on the FBI’s “Most Wanted List” with a reward of $5 million for his capture. On behalf of Hezbollah and Iran he had plotted attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, a U.S. Marine barracks, CIA Lebanon station chief William F. Buckley, USAF Colonel William Higgins, a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the Israeli Embassy in Argentina and the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia where 19 U.S. service personnel died. In absentia he was indicted in U.S. federal court in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 shortly after it departed from Athens, and the murder of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, one of the passengers on the plane.
With Hezbollah he also was arming and training fighters in Iraq that were carrying out suicide bombings and using IEDs (improvised explosive devices) to attack U.S. troops.
But CIA officials still had to prove the killing would be in “self-defense” of the American people – that Mughniyeh was a “continuing threat to Americans” – in order to obtain permission to carry out the assassination. Signatures for the operation required from President George W. Bush, the attorney general, the director of national intelligence, the national security adviser and the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, the source said.
The Bush administration understood, however, what kind of threat it was dealing with: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a reporter in 2008 that Hezbollah was a threat to national security. “To be honest, they make Al Qaeda look like a minor league team,” he was quoted as saying.Hana Levi Julian
Three Israeli air strikes late Tuesday night on Syrian army bases in Quneitra, Damascus and surrounds were a warning to Beirut, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said early Wednesday.
The attacks came in response to a double rocket attack on the Israeli Golan Heights fired by Lebanese Hezbollah terrorists from Syrian territory on Tuesday afternoon. One of the rockets, which were later identified as M307s, landed in the Herman region. The other exploded in El Ram.
The IDF responded immediately with artillery fire directed at the source of the rocket launches and reported that it had destroyed both. IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner informed media in a text message that the Syrian missile fire had indeed been “intentional” and “not spillover from the Syrian civil war” as has been claimed in past incidents.
“The air force strike tonight on territory controlled by [President Bashar] al-Assad in Syria against targets of his regime is a clear message that we will not allow any fire on the territory of Israel and breach of its sovereignty, and that we will respond with force and firmness,” Ya’alon said.
“As the Assad regime is responsible for the fire from its territory on Israel, we will know how to collect a heavy price from any regime or organization from whose territory our sovereignty is breached and fire of this or another type is conducted on Israel.
“We don’t intend to just move on and be tolerant towards terrorist activities and attempts to harm our citizens and soldiers,” Ya’alon continued. “We act with restraint and firmness, with responsibility and consideration to preserve the security of citizens of Israel against countries and terrorist sources whose goal is to disrupt our lives.”
Shortly after midnight, Israeli residents of the Golan Heights awakened to the sound of the Code Red incoming rocket alert siren again, just 12 hours after the first attack earlier in the day. No rocket landings were identified, however, and officials later concluded that perhaps the siren had activated in response to the nearby IAF air strikes instead.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing that Washington had seen the news of Tuesday’s attack on Israel and did not want “an escalation of the situation.” “We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and have been clear about our concerns over the regional instability caused by the crisis in Syria,” she told reporters.
“We call upon all parties to avoid any action that would jeopardize the long-held ceasefire between Israel and Syria and abide by the 1974 disengagement of forces agreement,” she added.
The escalation in the region follows the death of six Hezbollah terrorists – including three top commanders – and six Iranian Revolutionary Guards – including Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi – in an air strike on a convoy traveling through Quneitra province in Syria a week ago Sunday. The attack has been attributed to Israel although there has been no confirmation by the IDF.
Following the attack, the Islamic Republic of Iran sent a message to the United States “through diplomatic channels,” warning that Israel should suffer the consequences of its “wrongful act of aggression.”
But despite avowals of taking revenge against the Jewish State, Iran’s proxy in the region, Hezbollah, has made it clear through various means that the terror group does not seek another full-scale war.
Since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has lived underground in permanent hiding, speaking to his followers solely through video hookups, out of fear he will be assassinated by Israel.Hana Levi Julian